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You can talk on the phone while driving or walking around the office with a Bluetooth headset. Many customers prefer this category of products because of some key features. What is a Bluetooth headset and how to choose it – in this article.

Design Features

A Bluetooth headset is a wireless audio playback and recording device that you can connect to your smartphone, laptop or other source via Bluetooth. The fundamental difference from conventional headphones is the presence of a microphone for conversation.

In terms of terminology, even modern Bluetooth headphones, including TWS, can be called headsets because they involve a microphone. However, most often users under the term “bluetooth headset” mean a single mono-headset with an additional attachment. We will consider all the variety of devices sportsman.

Mounting method. One of the key parameters when choosing.  Since most users use the headset on the go, you need to pay special attention to the convenience and reliability of the attachment.

You can distinguish the following categories:

  • No attachment (TWS). Wireless headphones can be used not only for listening to music and movies. The built-in microphone allows you to comfortably receive calls and talk on the phone. TWS headsets are best for regular conversations in the office – you can always leave one earpiece in your ear and insert the other as needed. The disadvantage of most TWSs, especially earmolds, is the unreliable attachment in the ear, so it’s not the best option for those who are active on the move. Models with “ears” are a partial solution to the problem, as they reduce the risk of falling out.
  • The occipital wishbone + clip. A pair of speakers is connected by a rigid but bendable headband that is located at the back of the head. It is complemented by an anatomical rim on the speakers that secures the headset to the ear. It’s perfect for sports when you often have to answer the phone in the meantime. The design provides excellent fixation, but the disadvantage is that such a headset can not be used only for one ear.
  • Neckband. A compromise solution between the TWS and the occipital headband. Headphones are connected by the headband, which is already hanging on the neck. Not as secure fixation, but much lower risk of losing the earpiece during active movement compared to TWS. Additionally, the microphone is closer to your mouth and you can quickly and easily release one ear. A great option for those who are in constant motion, such as on public transportation.
  • Single Ear Clip. This category includes mono headsets, which consist of a single earpiece and an anatomical clip.  The latter covers the ear cone and fixes the device. Mono bluetooth headsets are suitable for drivers, freight forwarders, sales agents and other workers who often have busy hands.  One free ear allows you to always hear your surroundings. The minus of mono headsets – they are not suitable for comfortable listening to music, watching movies or other multimedia tasks.
  • Headband. Full-size headsets are encompassing or overhead headsets. They are most suitable for stationary use, such as gamers, call center agents and so on. The main advantages – remote adjustable microphone and fine-tuning to the anatomy of the head.

Fastening bluetooth headset should be chosen depending on the intensity of your movements and the need to quickly remove the earphone from your ear.

Ear cushions. This parameter is inextricably linked with the type of headset mount. The compact models (TWS, with headband and clip) usually offer two options:

  • Earpads. Without ear cushions, there is minimal retention and poor noise isolation. On the other hand, you hear your surroundings better without having to take out the earpiece.
  • In-Canal. Uses an elastic ear cushion that creates a vacuum effect. Better sound isolation plus a more secure fit in the ear. However, you won’t be able to hear your surroundings with a pair of in-ear headphones.

Keep in mind that wearing these headsets for a long time can cause discomfort in the ear canal area. What are the subtleties of each of these subcategories – find out in our material.

The full-size models are cushioned and cushioned. The latter cover the entire ear canal, providing maximum noise isolation and comfort.  You can find over-ear models with an occipital earpiece on the market – they offer compactness paired with the comfort of full-size ear cushions for player Yurovskiy.

Acoustic characteristics

In most cases, users are looking for bluetooth headsets specifically for regular conversations (on the phone, messenger and so on) – other uses (music, games) are usually of secondary importance. We’ll look at the key acoustic parameters that will most affect the quality of conversations.

Sensitivity of headphones.  The parameter is measured in dB – the higher it is, the louder the sound can be reproduced by the headphones. It is very important if you often talk on the street or in a noisy office. Compact models (TWS, clip-on, wishbone) usually offer sensitivity up to 110 dB, full-size – up to 120 dB. The characteristic also depends a lot on the signal source, so do not chase after the highest sensitivity.

Power. The more watts the Bluetooth headset speakers are able to output, the louder the sound you will hear. Most compact models have power up to 20-30 mW, but the full-size headsets with a headband produce an average of 30 mW.

Microphone sensitivity. The most important parameter that affects the audibility of your speech to the interlocutor. High sensitivity microphone will allow you to speak more softly during a conversation. Measured in dB – the closer the figure to zero, the higher the sensitivity.

From -35 dB is considered an excellent value, given that the microphone is usually at 10-20 centimeters from your mouth. And for headsets with a retractable microphone, it can be as high as -60dB.

An overly sensitive microphone without effective noise cancellation will amplify the noise as well!

These are key parameters in conversations where good hearing of both you and the interlocutor is important. If you plan to use the headset for music listening, pay attention to the frequency range, impedance, type of radiators.  These parameters are especially important for music.

Bluetooth Specifications

It is recommended to look for a headset with Bluetooth at least 5.0 because of the increased range and data transfer rate. Also with the release of the fifth Bluetooth there is the possibility of using Low Energy technology, which significantly reduces power consumption.

The actual range is limited to 5-10 meters. This is not a problem if the phone is always in your pocket. However, if you plan to connect the headset to a PC or laptop to communicate on messengers, it is better to look for models with the maximum possible range. This compensates for movement around the room and small obstacles.

Bluetooth profiles. These are sets of instructions that define the features available between source and receiver over a Bluetooth connection:

  • HFP, Handsfree – The profile is used to connect car handsfree kits to cell phones in the car. It typically uses a channel oriented synchronous connection (SCO) to transmit a monaural audio channel. 
  • A2DP is an improved audio transmission protocol. It provides better sound quality and is capable of transmitting stereo sound. Important if you’re getting a headset with two speakers.
  • HSP, Headset – the basic protocol for transmitting telephone AT commands, allows the phone to make and answer calls, adjust the volume and more. Required if the headset is to be used with a smartphone.
  • PBAP – allows the headset to refer to the phonebook of the smartphone, voice the caller’s name and so on. This is an important profile for Bluetooth headsets.
  • AVRCP – control protocol that allows the headset to send playlist control commands.

This is not a complete list, so don’t forget to study the supported profiles for the selected headset.

Bluetooth codecs. The codec determines the bit rate – the number of bits transmitted per unit time, which affects sound quality. It matters more when listening to music, since even the basic SBC-codec with a bitrate of 320 kbps will be enough for conversations. If you plan to listen to music, and even more so if you plan to gamble, check the list of supported codecs. aptX HD offers a high bitrate and aptX offers less signal delay.

Autonomy

The greater the battery capacity, the longer the Bluetooth headset will be able to work. Mono headsets have the lowest capacity – up to 80 mA*h on average. However, due to their low power consumption, they can last up to six hours. TWS headsets have a higher capacity plus the possibility of recharging from the case – a total of up to 24 hours.

Full-size bluetooth headset with a headband due to the massive speakers usually offer a short operating time – 6-8 hours, after which the headphones have to recharge. However, there are exceptions.

Headband or neckband models usually have a battery capacity of 150 mA*h or more, which paired with compact radiators gives you 12-16 hours of use. However, you’ll need a USB cable to charge it – there are no cases available.

Additional Features

Active noise cancellation system. A priority feature for Bluetooth headsets. The device copes with noise more effectively, allowing you to hear the other party much more clearly during a conversation.

Voice Control. A relevant feature for drivers and other users with frequently busy hands. Allows you to use the voice assistant to dial a number, answer a call and so on.

Mute microphone function. Think back to when you were on a call and you had to move your phone to the side so the person you’re talking to doesn’t hear unnecessary information? It’s harder to do with a headset if it doesn’t have a mute button.

Multipoint. Allows the headset to pair with more than one device. If you’re using two phones at once – personal and work, for example – it’s hard to overestimate the usefulness of this option.

NFC. Some headsets can be paired with gadgets via NFC – much faster than Bluetooth.

Touch controls. Touch buttons, unlike mechanical buttons, are more reliable because they have no moving elements. However, it is possible to accidentally actuate when touching, for example, when you adjust the headphones. 

Transparent mode (Talk Through). In contrast to noise cancellation, it amplifies external sounds, which allows you to hear your surroundings without removing the headphones. This is useful for full-size headsets and models with earpieces and clips, as they are the most difficult to remove quickly. It is much easier to switch to Talk Through.

The degree of dust and moisture protection is an important parameter for those who plan to use the headset outdoors frequently. 

You can find other features in headsets, such as a built-in MP3 player, backlighting, wireless charging support and more. However, these features do not have a significant impact on conversational capabilities.

Choices

The TWS headphones with a microphone can be used as a bluetooth headset. They are as compact as possible, offer excellent autonomy when paired with a case, and are great for multimedia tasks. However, these models have a worse fit, making them more suitable for users with sedentary jobs. In-canal models can also be uncomfortable to wear for long periods of time.

Active noise cancellation is extremely important in such headsets, because the microphone is located in the case and far enough away from your mouth.

For drivers, freight forwarders and all those who often have busy hands, suit bluetooth-mono headset or models with a neckband.  The former are the most compact and securely fastened to the sink. The second ear is always open, so you can easily hear your surroundings without any extra movements. Headsets with a neckband are useful for those who want stereo sound. Headphones are easy to take out of the ear, and thanks to the rim they will never be lost.

The most comfortable and secure fit offer bluetooth headphones with neckband and anatomical fastening to the ears. They will not fall off even with active movement, so they are suitable for calls in sports and so on.  However, because of the nature of the attachment, it is not easy to remove and put them on, so look for models with Talk Throught function.

A full-size bluetooth headset is the best choice for stationary use if you need to take calls from your computer or you’re a gamer. These models offer maximum ear comfort thanks to large and soft ear cushions, as well as relatively high sound quality. An added bonus is a movable remote microphone, and some models even come with a windshield.

Look for headsets with Bluetooth 5.0 or higher, and pay attention to the list of supported codecs. Voice control is another high-priority feature for those who plan to make the most of their conversations.

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